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The Honour of the Knights (First Edition) (The Battle for the Solar System)

When starfighter pilot Simon Dodds is enrolled in a top secret military project, he and his wingmates begin to suspect that there is a lot more to the theft of a legendary battleship and an Imperial nation's civil war than either the Confederation Stellar Navy or the government are willing to let on.

Click here to learn more and read an extract!

Basic Tutorials

Basic Game Tutorial #11 - Joystick movement


This tutorial will demonstrate how to use the joystick to move an image around the screen.

Compile and run tutorial17. You can control the ship by using the joystick's joypad or analog stick. Pressing the fire button will fire a bullet.

An in-depth look

The structure for the joystick is an SDL_Joystick and holds all the information related to the joystick. It is stored in the Game struct:

typedef struct Game
	SDL_Joystick *joystick;
	SDL_Surface *screen;
} Game;
In defs.h we add the following definition:
#define DEAD_ZONE 3200
This controls the joystick's analog control sensitivity, this will be discussed later.

Before using a joystick in SDL it must be opened. This is performed in the SDL_Init function in init.c

The number of joysticks detected by SDL can be queried by the function SDL_NumJoysticks

joystickCount = SDL_NumJoysticks();
Since this tutorial deals with using the joystick for movement, we will exit the program if no joysticks were detected. A game that allows joystick or keyboard input would want to handle this event differently.

Now that we have detected a joystick, we need to open it and store the reference to the joystick. This is done with the following.

game.joystick = SDL_JoystickOpen(0);
This will open the first joystick detected by SDL. If you have multiple joysticks attached to the system then we can open them instead by specifying the index number. As always, the index number starts at 0 and must be less than SDL_NumJoysticks. Specifying a negative number or a number greater than SDL_NumJoysticks will cause a segfault. A joystick opened by SDL must be closed when the program exits to free the resources. The following lines
buttonCount = SDL_JoystickNumButtons(game.joystick);

printf("Joystick has %d buttons\n", buttonCount);

printf("Joystick has %d axes\n", SDL_JoystickNumAxes(game.joystick));

Are simply for information. In your game you might wish to raise an error if, say, the number of detected buttons is less than the number that your game requires. The only other addition to init.c is the closing of the joystick in the cleanup function.

/* Close the joystick */

if (game.joystick != NULL)
This will close the joystick and free the resources allocated to it.

In input.c we add in some extra code to detect the events produced from the joystick

	switch (event.jbutton.button)
		case 0:
			input.fire = 1;

	switch (event.jbutton.button)
		case 0:
			input.fire = 0;
These two case statements deal with the first joystick button being pressed and released. This raises an important point: There is no way to know what button is the first one. On a PS2 joypad it is the Triangle button, but on other joysticks it might be different, so you will have to try all the buttons until the ship fires a shot. Don't worry though, the button doesn't change every time you start the program! The next code snippet deals with moving the ship.
	/* Horizontal movement */

	if (event.jaxis.axis == 0)
		if (event.jaxis.value < -DEAD_ZONE)
			input.left = 1;

		else if (event.jaxis.value > DEAD_ZONE)
			input.right = 1;

			input.left = 0;
			input.right = 0;

	/* Vertical movement */

	if (event.jaxis.axis == 1)
		if (event.jaxis.value < -DEAD_ZONE)
			input.up = 1;

		else if (event.jaxis.value > DEAD_ZONE)
			input.down = 1;

			input.up = 0;
			input.down = 0;
SDL_JOYAXISMOTION is the event produced when the directional buttons on the joystick are pressed. When this happens, we need to check which axis was moved, either the horizontal or vertical. We do this by checking the event.jaxis.axis value. 0 signifies a horizontal movement and 1 signifies a vertical movement. The next part is important when reading input from analog joysticks:
if (event.jaxis.value < -DEAD_ZONE)
	input.left = 1;
The value generated from event.jaxis.value is between -32767 and 32767, with 0 as no movement. Some analog joysticks can be slightly sensitive or simply damaged and will always generate a small movement event, which the input code would pick up. The best solution is to ignore these small values to stop the ship from moving when the player doesn't want it to. The variable DEAD_ZONE, tells the code to not process movement that is below its value. This is currently set to 3200 and is stored in defs.h. This value is fairly reasonable but if you are still experiencing movement when the joystick is idle you should increase this value and recompile. A fully fledged game would allow this value to be configurable by the player.


Adding joystick support is quite simple, but as you can see, the joystick buttons may not be mapped in a desirable fashion. In the next tutorial, we will look at adding support for configuring controls.


Source Code

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